Miscellaneous Tariff Bill, a Popular History

By August 11, 2010Economy, General, Trade

With the President set to sign H.R. 4380, the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill, into law this afternoon, we thought a history of how previous Congresses and Administrations have handled the bill might be useful.

The bill has never been controversial before and, if its provisions are considered independently, has always elicited overwhelming votes of support.

In 1996, H.R.3815, the Miscellaneous Trade and Technical Corrections Act of 1996, was introduced on July 16 and President Clinton signed it into law on October 11. It passed both the House and Senate on voice votes and through unanimous consent, respectively.

In 1999, H.R.435, the Miscellaneous Trade and Technical Corrections Act of 1999, was introduced on February 2, passed the House a week later on a vote of 414-1, and the conference agreement was adopted by the House in June by a vote of 375-1. President Clinton signed it into law on June 25, 1999.

In 2003 and 2004, the successor legislation was H.R.1047, the Miscellaneous Trade and Technical Corrections Act of 2004. It was introduced on March 4, 2003, passed the House March 5, 2003 by a vote of 415-11, got hung up in the Senate but eventually passed on unanimous consent and was signed into law by President Bush on December 3, 2004.

In 2006, the process was complicated as the miscellaneous tariff provisions were included in other major pieces of legislation. As the American Apparel and Footwear Association summarized it: “During 2006, Congress cleared two separate measures containing miscellaneous trade and tariff measures, including duty suspensions on a range of interests to AAFA members relating to apparel, footwear and textile components. These bills included the pension bill (H.R. 4) that was signed by President Bush in early August 2006 and the omnibus trade bill (H.R. 6406) that was signed by President Bush in December 2006. ”

The pension bill, H.R. 4, including a section entitled the Miscellaneous Trade and Technical Corrections Act of 2006, was introduced July 28, 2006, passed the House the same day by 279-131, passed the Senate on August 3 by a vote of 93-5, and was signed into law by President Bush on August 17. The second bill, H.R. 6406, was introduced in the House on December 7, 2006, passed on December 8 by a vote of 212-184 and then folded into H.R. 6111, which was signed into law by President Bush on Dec. 20, 2006.

Bottom line: Enactment of the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill is a big deal and a good thing, but its provisions have never been controversial and Presidents have always gladly signed it into law. We’re glad too.

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